The work of Brooklyn-based cosmic Americana outfit Pale Mara is born from a need to cherish the past while also pushing forward into the future of these pastorally-inclined sounds. Led by Lee Godleski and Allison Robinson, the band has a particular knack for writing emotionally invested songs that embrace their country and folk roots even as they occasionally flirt with subtle psychedelic flourishes. There’s a fascinating alchemy which lies at the heart of their music, a sense of understated experimentation that doesn’t attempt to reinvent genres so much as it adapts familiar sounds in new and unique ways.
Aided in these endeavors by lap steel guitarist David Kammerer, bassist Thea Garlid and drummer David Christian, Godleski and Robinson are able to evoke cinematic atmospheres and the draw of distant horizons that tremble with an inborn emotionality. It’s not hard to spot the influence of artists such as Emmylou Harris and The Band, but it is far more difficult to accurately describe that way in which the band reinterprets these rhythms and tonalities into something free of artifice and imitation. The band will be self-releasing their upcoming eponymous debut LP on Dec. 14.
On their latest single, “Bird,” they don’t over-complicate things, allowing the languid shuffle and roll of piano, percussion and guitar to slowly envelop and subsume their audience. Robinson’s gorgeous voice effortlessly traverses this landscape of subtle harmonies and miles-long melodies. Evoking the lyrical rurality of Gram Parsons and the gentle jazz-folk shamble of Joni Mitchell, the track is both homage and rugged declaration of individuality. And given the weight of these well-worn influences, their success is a testament to the band’s ability to rework and adapt these communal sounds without sacrificing their own distinctive musical perspective. There’s no hurry here, no rush to a conclusion — the song ambles along through a series of uncomplicated rhythmic movements that dig deep into the most cavernous parts of your heart.